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Old 09-08-2013, 08:58 PM   #1
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Lesson learned about propane tanks

Maybe I can save someone a few headaches by what I learned recently.

I removed my 20 lb.propane tank to weigh it because I had no idea how much was left in the tank. After weighing the tank I put it back on the trailer as it had a fair amount still in it. I hooked up the hose, turned on the valve, and tried lighting the stove to purge the gas line of air. It would burn nicely for a few seconds and go out. I tried and tried to no avail. I know that the hose from the tank to the regulator has an "excess flow shut off valve" in case of a major leak. I removed the hose again and inspected it, tried shaking it thinking maybe the valve was stuck. Hooked it back up and tried many times to light the stove. Still no light.

Later in the day I got on the computer and Googled "excess flow valve" and up popped several websites. The one I read was a masterpiece. The writer did a superb job of explaining how this valve works. The valve is for safety, in that it will shut off the gas if a hose is severed or a major leak occurs. I knew this. Even when the valve is closed there is a small hole in the valve to let a very small amount of gas pass through. I suspected this as I would light the stove and get a nice flame that only lasted a few seconds and then go out.
What I didn't know was this! After turning on the tank valve we have to wait until the pressures equalize.
In other words, when we turn on the tank valve, the excess flow valve thinks there is a leak and closes, because the pressure is greater from the tank than is the pressure in the lines. That is why there is a small hole to let a vey small amount of gas escape through to the other side of the flow valve to equalize the pressure. So, after reading this I hooked everything back up, turned on the tank valve, poured myself a drink and waited about 20 minutes. Tried to light the stove and it lit immediately, along with the water heater and furnace. All worked great. So the lesson I learned is not to rush it. Pour yourself a drink and relax for awhile.
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Old 09-09-2013, 05:09 AM   #2
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Thanks for the info. If I may add to your dissertation, another reason for the excess flow valve to deploy is the rapid opening of the tank valve. Try opening it s l o w l y. As a matter of best practice, do this with any valve that you operate whether on your air compressor, garden hose, steam line, or whatever. This doesn't apply to travel trailers, but if you throw a steam valve open and send a slug of condensate downstream you'll blow the pipes off the wall. Crack the valve and listen until you can't hear the sound coming from the valve then open it up the rest of the way. Just a word of advice from a pipefitter.
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Old 09-09-2013, 06:42 AM   #3
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Lesson learned about propane tanks

Interesting...I did not know that. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 09-09-2013, 08:46 AM   #4
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Interesting...I did not know that. Thanks for sharing!
X2

Very good info......
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Old 09-09-2013, 08:53 AM   #5
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Pour yourself a drink and relax. Repeat as needed.
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Old 09-10-2013, 08:18 PM   #6
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Pour yourself a drink and relax. Repeat as needed.
That's exactly why I camp
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Old 09-13-2013, 12:43 PM   #7
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Great info!

BTW, what is the empty weight of your tank and how much did it actually weigh?
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Old 09-13-2013, 01:03 PM   #8
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Very good info, thank you boatbuilder and mcfarmall for sharing this advise - it will come in handy for sure, especially the "pour yourself a drink and relax" part!
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Old 09-13-2013, 01:35 PM   #9
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I too have been down this road. My excess flow valve apparently closed due to my opening the tank valve rapidly but would not relax. A local RV shop (we were on a trip) didn't have a pig-tail the right length so they sent me to a propane shop nearby. While they were making a new pig-tail for me I learned that they can sometimes stick in the closed state but rapping the valve on something solid will most times reset the valve. So I now have a spare pig-tail.
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Old 09-14-2013, 04:24 AM   #10
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Great info!

BTW, what is the empty weight of your tank and how much did it actually weigh?
The empty weight of the tank is usually stamped on the tank. I believe that they call it the TW . TW stands for tare weight. Do not know if this info is still valid today.
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